Remotely Controlled Stampedes

Remote ControlHand me the remote.

Stop scrolling so fast.

Turn down the volume.

When most people hear the words “remote control,” they usually think in terms of changing the channel.  But using a remote represents more than an attempt to determine what’s on television.  It’s an action that results in mental activity and physical movement.  Every single time you hit an arrow button, an OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop occurs.  Most people don’t analyze the underlying process too much, probably because their behavior has become so instinctual and routine.  Needless to say, society has quickly adapted to the concept of remote control technology.

Different types of remote control devices influence decision making.  And they influence physical motion, or a lack thereof.  TV remotes even spawned the term “couch potato” which has a negative, lethargic connotation.  Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 are video gaming platforms.  They require skillful hand-eye coordination and rapid response.  Faster decisions are generally rewarded accordingly.  A garage door opener is another type of remote control device.  It triggers hesitation.  How many times has your spouse hit the button and slowly drifted toward the rising door?  It’s fascinating how so many people have this strange inclination to shave 2 seconds off their entry.  Is this purely a coincidence or is it part of something bigger — some form of subliminal, technological conditioning?

You might not be aware of it, but nearly everyone is carrying a remote control device.  They’re called cell phones.  This technology follows us everywhere and has a substantial impact on our day-to-day activities.  A little perspective is important.  Back in the 1950’s, if you told people that everyone will someday have a portable phone calling device, they would have likely questioned your mental health.  Now tell them you’ll be using that same device to trade stocks, store and play music, send photos, book a flight, activate a dishwasher and cancel your dinner reservations… all without speaking.  Call me naive, but I’m pretty sure they would have questioned your sanity.  Take a moment and reflect on the progression of communication, technology and society.

Cell phones heavily influence our choices and emotions.  A call from the doctor’s office evokes immediate concern.  A call from child protective services is reason for alarm.  A call from a debt collector can elicit irritation, anger and anxiety.  These situations have evolved into social norms.  And our government has helped us along the way.  In case of an emergency, dial 911.

The U.S. government has recently expanded on its ability to remotely contact its citizens.  This public service is called WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts), formerly known as PLAN (Personal Localized Alert Network) or CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System).  It’s basically a nationwide mobile emergency alert system under the jurisdiction of the FCC and FEMA.  It can be used to deliver:

1.  Alerts issued by the President
2.  Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life
3.  Amber Alerts

All of these scenarios involve the transmission of real-time information.  They can create elements of concern and apprehension, fear and panic — further evidence that cellular technology directly impacts human emotions.

Let’s shift gears for a moment and talk about drones.  Drones are one of the newer, high-profile weapons of war.  Make no mistake about it, the United States leads the way in targeted assassinations from great distances.  Drones are by definition a remote controlled mechanism of modern warfare.

Modern drones came into militarized existence around the same time as another technological innovation, the campus emergency alert system.  When a university deals with a time-sensitive crisis such as a shooting or reported lone gunman, they’ll use this communications medium to rapidly distribute a mass text alert.  In extreme situations like these, the message invariably calls for a campus “lockdown” until the situation can be resolved.  A lockdown is an effective means of restricting widespread physical movement.  It is another method of implementing remote control.

Here’s a good question.  Is it reasonable to assume the opposite could happen — the delivery of intentionally untruthful alerts specifically designed to create a mass panic?

The planet earth has a population of roughly 7 billion.  Currently, there are about 6 billion active cell phones in the world.  The projected number of active mobile phones will exceed the world population by 2014.  Am I the only one who has considered the possibility of cell phones being used as weapons?  I doubt it.  Am I the only person to make an issue of it?  As far as I’m aware.

So is it reasonable to warn the population that cell phones can be used as weapons of warfare, or at the very least, a method of coordinating mass, simultaneous movement resulting in human stampedes?

Should people be aware of this very generic concept?  Of course.
Are they?  Not as far as I’m aware.

We the people deserve that fundamental human right.